Safety professionals are tasked with many responsibilities including a reduction in injury frequency and costs, lowering of severity ratings and lost work day cases, post incident problem solving, etc. In tandem the establishment of a safety culture is often informally assigned or expected. Ultimately though, safety professionals are charged with creating a safe work place. Accomplishing this formidable task requires a team with authority and experience.
It is common for many safety professionals to have a small support team, if any at all. In addition, we often lack authority to mandate changes. This places a premium on our skills as an influencer to shepherd the changes and continuing to create a safe work place. Influencing without authority is a skill that is often overlooked, but essential to success.
Safety professionals cannot create a safe and supporting work environment alone. According to Admiral William H. McRaven in his book Make Your Bed, “it takes a team of people to get you to your destination.” In other words, “find someone to help you paddle.”
Finding someone to help us engages those aforementioned, as well as the requisite seasoned presentation skills. During your career as a safety professional, you will be tasked with addressing safety committees, conferencing with executive leaders, and front line employees. Our presentation is an opportunity to influence others to support our efforts. To help us paddle!
The following is an excerpt from Camille Oakes and my session at ASSE Safety 2017 titled It’s All in the Presentation, Techniques to Enhance Your Presentation Skills.
Be the best speaker you can be by employing these 7 tips.
Tip #1 – Align Your Verbal, Vocal and Visual. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it and how you look when you say it. If what you say is not aligned or in agreement with how you sound and how you look, your audience is more likely to believe how you look or sound than what you actually say.
Tip #2 - Make Eye Contact from the start. Make an emotional connection with your audience by holding eye contact for 3 to 5 seconds. Eye contact conveys honesty, confidence and sincerity. Deliver a complete thought to one person, then move on to another person.
Tip #3 - Props and Visuals – Use props to help your audience visualize and remember your message. Visuals dramatically improve message retention.
Tip #4 - Arrive at Least 2 Hours Early to test equipment, conduct a dry run, practice in the room if possible, and most important, interact with people as they arrive.
Tip #5 - Be Passionate and Enthusiastic – Nothing says you don’t care like a flat presentation. If you don’t care about your presentation, why should anyone else? Communicate with energy and passion.
Tip #6 – Tell a Story. Audience attention starts to sag after about 10 minutes. Bring your message to life through stories. Tell a story that illustrates your message. Stories are sticky.
Tip #7 - Practice, Practice, Practice. Do you want to be REALLY good? Video yourself. Look for good body posture, and listen for non-words and filler words. Taking a look at yourself and thinking about how you come across to others can be very insightful. We are seldom aware of various facial expressions and vocal inflections that aren't aligned with the thoughts and feelings we want to convey to our audience.
Strong presentation skills are necessary for safety professionals to influence change that results in a strong safety culture. The good news is that presentation skills can be learned and honed with practice.